Navigating Benefits

Creating a Maternity Leave Policy Is Best for Business


  • Research state and federal laws regarding family leave before creating a maternity leave policy for your organization

  • Have a written policy in place even if your company doesn't meet the requirements for offering FMLA or state maternity leave

  • Allowing staff time off to recuperate and bond with their newborn—knowing that they have a job to return to—helps with both retention and recruitment

Posted by December 18, 2018

With the large number of millennials currently in the workforce—around 56 million individuals, according to Pew Research—companies will likely be faced with a slew of pregnant employees in near future. However, it’s been said that only 26 percent of businesses in the private sector offer maternity leave, and most don’t even have a written maternity leave policy.

If your organization offers maternity leave without a formal policy, or if it isn’t offered at all, you may want to consider offering this as a employee benefit. Allowing your colleagues time off to recuperate and bond with the baby (knowing that they have a job to return to) helps with both retention and recruitment.

It’s a good idea to create a policy that dictates whether your leave is paid or unpaid, which staff members qualify for the time away and any requirements for how the leave will be handled. Here’s what you need to know when designing the benefit.

Offering Maternity Leave Helps Retention

You care about your fellow employees, and you’re excited to watch as their family expands. However, because they’re such great team members, you may feel worried about losing them once the baby arrives. That’s understandable! One of the ways you can help your coworkers transition from a pregnancy to parenthood is working to create an environment that fosters work-life balance. Investing in maternity leave as a benefit encourages working mothers at your company to return to their position after they’ve had time to bond with their newborn.

Retention is vitally important for a business; losing employees (and needing to rehire) can be quite costly. Fortunately, creating a maternity leave policy could help with retention. In an article for Fast Company, Barbara Wankoff, executive director for diversity and inclusion at KPMG, reports that financial loss of losing a staff member is quite high. “The number that tends to get thrown around is 150% of an individual’s salary,” she says.

Family Leave Policies Can Boost Recruitment

Not only will your current employees appreciate a maternity leave policy, but you’ll likely impress potential candidates, too. A competitive benefits package can make all the difference between an applicant taking a job with your company or choosing a different opportunity (even if the salary at the other company is slightly lower than your offer).

Benefits packages round out salary offers, and millennials are increasingly looking for companies with a workplace culture that promotes a healthy work-life balance. Promoting the fact that your organization offers maternity leave—especially if the policy dictates that employees will be paid during their leaves of absence—will help the company stand out from the competition.

Consider Maternity Leave Compliance

Before you create a policy for your organization, research any federal or state laws in place that would influence the company’s guidelines. Most organizations are familiar with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which is a federal policy that all businesses must adhere to. It requires all companies with 50 or more employees to offer unpaid and job-protected leave to an eligible employee. If your company has 50 or more employees, your maternity leave policy would need to comply with FMLA requirements.

The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that “FMLA also allows states to set standards that are more expansive than the federal law.” Remember to be aware of these additional regulations when creating your organization’s policies. For example, your state may allow eligible employees to take additional time off after the FMLA protected 12 weeks or it may require employees be paid for a small amount of their time away.

Take Steps to Create a Maternity Leave Policy

The first step toward creating a maternity leave policy for your company is to research all state and federal requirements. Even if you happen to work for a small business with less than 50 employees, it’s still valuable to have a written policy in place. It should indicate whether your company allows time off with job protection or not, and if so, how much leave can be taken and who qualifies.

Then, consider polling your fellow employees to see what they’d most appreciate in a policy. You’ll need to decide who qualifies for the leave, how much time can be taken and what types of documents are required. Finally, work to get everything down in writing, and have your legal team process the document as an official company policy!

Looking for helpful tools and resources that can engage and support your colleagues? Check out the Employer Toolkit on United Concordia Dental’s website for some inspiration.

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